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UK's RAJAR Halts PPM Trial, Launches Review

April 28 2008

UK radio audience body RAJAR will cut short its investment in its experimental electronic measurement panel, run by TNS using Arbitron's PPM, and will launch an industry-wide review of audience research options. It will also field test a new online diary system, to be designed by Nunwood, in July.

The RAJAR Board decided unanimously to discontinue its investment in the experimental electronic measurement panel, which was launched in London in January 2007 as a joint venture with TV body BARB - the latter pulled out of the venture after one year. Panel contractor TNS will cease further data collection from the end of June 2008, and focus solely on analysing the data already obtained.

RAJAR MD Sally de la Bedoyere described the decision as 'a rational and pragmatic one', pointing to 'serious concerns with respondent compliance, particularly at breakfast time' and others involving 'sample sizes, panel composition and the practicalities of operating a panel for the entire UK radio market'. The decision was also influenced by the withdrawal of BARB and consequent doubling of the financial burden on RAJAR, she added. RAJAR said 'the pace of change and innovation within the industry needed swifter action than electronic measurement is able to offer at this juncture', and confirmed that electronic measurement would not form part of its 2009 contract.

The review will be headed by Morag Blazey, former CEO of PHD Media Ltd, and will lead to a new three-year strategic plan to be published later this year. Blazey will consult with a range of key radio and advertising industry stakeholders on the scope and content of the survey, reporting and trading turnaround times, proposals for bigger samples and many other issues.

Meanwhile RAJAR is currently working on the possible introduction of a new online diary which it says would 'give the radio industry more flexibility, wider scope and the option of greater in depth analysis'. Nunwood is working closely on the interactive diary with IPSOS Media, RAJAR's current fieldwork contractor, and if the review and tests are favourable, may be asked to develop a model for the integration of the online diary into the main survey, alongside the existing diary.

De la Bedoyere hopes the consultation will give the body 'a clear mandate to move forward on a range of issues'. These include measuring engagement, programme changes and event response; all listening regardless of device, platform (digital or analogue), location and whether live or listen again; and the provision of more frequent data, 'loading seamlessly into an enhanced, user-friendly trading system'. She adds: 'We would like to work closely with organisations such as ABC-e and JICIMS to encourage standard metrics and measuring of all station websites and traffic...'

RAJAR has spent £3.5 million on research into audio meters since 2001 and has tested systems from Arbitron, Eurisko, IPSOS-RSL and GfK Telecontrol. UK radio industry spend on research per pound of revenue is higher than for any other medium at c.1.3% (£7 million on research with revenue of £535m). RAJAR is jointly owned by the BBC and the RadioCentre, which represents the commercial sector. The body is online at www.rajar.co.uk .

In direct contrast, Canada's measurement organisation BBM today selected the PPM for its new TV and radio measurement panel.

All articles 2006-23 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas, 2024- by Nick Thomas, unless otherwise stated.

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